Milan Baros scores two great goals as Czechs reach semi-finals at Euro 2004

28-06-2004

Miiiilllllaaaaaaannn! Milan Baros on Sunday scored two brilliant goals in three minutes as the Czech Republic beat Denmark 3:0 at the European Football Championships. Baros is now the top scorer in the competition, with five goals in four games. Now he and his Czech team-mates face Greece in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Milan Baros, second from left, hugs teammate Jan Koller as they celebrate their 3-0 win over Denmark, photo: CTKMilan Baros, second from left, hugs teammate Jan Koller as they celebrate their 3-0 win over Denmark, photo: CTK "For every player it's a big challenge because it's a big tournament. Everyone will be watching this tournament, so I think no-one needs any special motivation."

The striker Milan Baros speaking to Radio Prague, shortly before he and the rest of the Czech team left for the European Football Championships in Portugal. Two weeks ago he was a decent forward, a 22-year-old who wasn't a regular starter for his club Liverpool. Now - after five goals in four games - Milan Baros is a national hero, the biggest star in a brilliant Czech team.

Not only has he played incredibly, he's the leading scorer in Euro 2004. And only one player has ever scored more than five goals in the competition, the French great Michel Platini.

On Sunday night it took Baros and his team-mates a while to get into their stride in their quarter-final clash with Denmark, and they were under some pressure towards the end of the first half. But coach Karel Bruckner must have said the right thing at half time, because just five minutes after the interval the Czechs were 1:0 up, after a great header from Jan Koller, the tallest player in the tournament.

Czech forward Milan Baros (R) scores the 2-0, photo: CTKCzech forward Milan Baros (R) scores the 2-0, photo: CTK But the real fireworks began in the 63rd minute, when Karel Poborsky - who has been great at Euro 2004 - sent a perfect ball into the box for Baros to cutely chip it over the advancing Danish keeper. So far so good, but there's no stopping this kid and two minutes later Baros does it again! Another great pass, this time from captain Pavel Nedved, one touch then bam!, left foot, back of the net, stunning goal, 3:0! It was goodnight Denmark, with scenes of jubilation on the pitch and half the Czech nation jumping with joy!

Milan Baros really must be considered the player of the tournament so far, and he's certainly better looking than English wunderkind Wayne Rooney!

For his part, the boy from the Moravian village of Vigantice says scoring so many goals at Euro 2004 is a dream come true and he's never been so happy in his life. Baros now has 21 goals in 29 internationals, which is some tally, especially considering he started most of those games on the bench - before the championships Karel Bruckner's regular tactic was to start with five in midfield and bring the former Banik Ostrava player on as a substitute.

Now of course there's no disputing his place in a Czech team who have won a lot of fans around the world with their gutsy, attacking play and perfect mix of youth and experience. Let's hope they, and Milan Baros, will have us all cheering again in their semi-final against Greece on Thursday and, fingers crossed, next Sunday's final. Altogether now: Miiiilllllaaaaaaannn!

28-06-2004

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